Did You Regret the First Car You Bought?

When we're young, us petrolheads rarely think about houses, mistresses, pets or lavish vacations. And that's because all those things seem to pale in comparison to the holy grail of our existence: the cool car.
Buying the first motor is an intense experience, deeply charged with emotion and meaning. Vast quantities of time are spent picking out the fastest, most powerful and radically styles car your money can stretch to. It's almost like we think one object has the magical power to solve every problem with have.

After endlessly sifting through old glossy motoring magazines and boring all our friends with ridiculous questions like "is this cool, bro?", we finally take the plunge and buy a car. High expectations? That's the understatement of the century.

Think back to when you were about 16 years old, because that's when I think most of us convinced ourselves we knew exactly which car to buy in order to made the heart go "vroom vroom". It was something like a Mitsubishi Evo or a Honda Civic, right? I've been there, and with the benefit of hindsight, I can tell you that first car has a slim chance of being everything you think it is.

A little over a year ago, I was returning home from a long 6-hour drive when I noticed one of my "childhood heroes" parked near my house. She looked good in metallic blue and the years had been kind, but the spark just wasn't there any more. It didn't change, but I did. Did I stop caring about leaving long skid marks on the ground? Of course not, but I knew the compromises I would have to make to own my hero, which I could now easily afford.

I was lucky enough not to buy my hero all those years ago. Question is, did you guys ever regret buying that first car?

At least one guy I know fell for the "power trap". That's when you go for the bigger engine because, in your mind, drag racing is more important than comfort. His hot hatch might have been fast, but without air conditioning and power locks, it's kind of a kill-joy in the summer. The suspension was also rock-hard and made driving fast really unpleasant, not to mention it needed at least three shop visits a year.

I suppose being a car journalist and telling you about needing less power makes me sound like a phony, but I assure you petrol flows though my vanos.

There are even some cars which work the other way around. At first, you hate yourself for making a mistake only to fall in love with the car a couple of years later. I know a few people who had that experience with old Volkswagen Passat sedans, discovering that great rear visibility and thick sheetmetal are kind of nice to have in the real world.

It's almost like the difference between choosing to marry an exotic dancer or a really nice girl from an oh-so-serious family. The dancer is going to be a lot of fun until the ex boyfriend who went to prison stabs you, while the good girl pretty much guarantees a boring, stable life with three meals a day. But no matter how many new things you're… experiencing with the wild girl, you'll regret saying "yes" while sitting in intensive care.

Another thing that gets people to hate their first pick is the fuel economy, especially with those cheap V6 SUVs. Adventures in the wilderness are probably not going to be your biggest concern when 1/4 of a tank is gone on an average commute to work, right?

Reliability is a thing I now find more important than cool design. Nothing is worse than oil changes every 6 months or replacing 3 motors for the pop-up headlights on your favorite Japanese import. Even if everything is free and done under warranty, it's a pain in the…

Black paint that's hard to keep clean, transmissions that rattle, noisy engines, bad dealer service, hard seats, crammed interiors or rust – I now want to hear your horror story about the car you shouldn't have bought!
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
Mihnea Radu profile photo

Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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